A Super Bowl for the true fan

These two teams are here partly because their front offices know how to build a team and, at times, make decisions that aren't initially popular, but pay off in the larger scheme.

The Steelers have only made three coaching hires in the last 42 years. Each time, they turned to guys under 40 without any head coaching experience. You could say Chuck Noll worked out. So did Bill Cowher.

Same thing with Mike Tomlin, a hire many Pittsburgh partisans questioned in 2007. And some still won't give him the total credit, saying Tomlin inherited Ben Roethlisberger and defensive wizard Dick LeBeau. But Tomlin is just an impressive coach and man, someone that has become evident over time, and he just may snag a second ring, something Cowher couldn't pull off.

Then there's the Roethlisberger saga. Ben was certainly guilty of doing young, dumb things, and to assume anything more without legal proof is wrong. Still, many called on the Steelers to dump him for PR's sake. They did not, and Ben has begun the slow, painful process of character rehab that, in fairness, will take years, not months, to complete.

Over in Green Bay, the circumstances were different. A whole lot of Packer partisans wanted to run coach Mike McCarthy or, especially, GM Ted Thompson out of town when it had the nerve to say no to the wavering Brett Favre in 2008 and give Aaron Rodgers a chance.

Yes, Favre was a Green Bay legend, but Thompson put the team first, and as Favre's late-career saga, the good and sordid parts, played out in New York and Minnesota, Rodgers kept his mouth shut and steadily turned into one of the NFL's best quarterbacks, justifying Thompson's faith in him.

And this season, when a laundry list of injuries could have, or should have, crippled the Pack's championship hopes, McCarthy kept his team going, and Thompson kept finding guys (think James Starks) to plug the holes. It all led to Green Bay's first NFC title in 13 years.

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